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How poor acoustics can turn your favourite film into a horror movie

By Knauf Insulation
March 31, 2022

Great acoustics enhance the magic of movies.

Inside Movie Theater Pathé Maastricht Netherland Acoustic Isolated

Picture the scene. You’re in the cinema enjoying a great romantic comedy laughing along with your favourite actors. Then the pace of the movie slows, the actors get close, the music becomes quieter, romance is blossoming and…

All you can hear is the high-octane screech of crashing helicopters, screaming soldiers and relentless machine gun fire from the action film next door.

"Bad acoustics can turn an incredible cinema experience into a real horror film, “says Maro Puljizević, Acoustics Project Manager at Knauf Insulation’s Core Research and Development Department. “The whole point of theatre or cinema is the user experience, the illusion.

“You want to be in a space where you enter an imaginary world and for this illusion to be successful you need to be insulated from the surrounding real world. I remember watching Lord of the Rings and in the quiet moments all I could hear was a distracting hum from the air-conditioning system.”


How to enhance the sound experience

Acoustic challenges include external sources, such as noise from the movie next door, road noise outside or noisy customers in the lobby. Then there are interior sources such as loud air-conditioning, projectors or uninsulated walls next to beeping elevators, says Maro.

Whether the cinema is housed in a complex, shopping mall or historic building, the focus should always be on maximising the performance of the sound system to ensure all members of the audience enjoy their acoustic experience equally wherever they sit.

“It is no good if some members of the audience are deafened and others struggle to catch dialogue. That is why every surface requires attention to acoustic detail from the theatre’s airlock double doors, walls and ceilings to the canopies, carpets and seat upholstery,” says Maro.


Avoid noise from the popcorn stand

Acoustic Insulation Pathé Movie Theater Maastircht

“You need to avoid echoes, you need to avoid deadening the sound, you need to isolate low, mid and low frequencies… ultimately it is all about orchestrating a variety of acoustic combinations with different thicknesses, different densities and different spaces to create a completely immersive experience.”

The Knauf Group and Knauf Insulation has decades of experience tackling the acoustic challenge of cinemas and engineering the customised systems that will ensure audiences are lost in their favourite film rather than sounds from the lobby popcorn stand.

From cinema ceilings, walls, floors and roofing to HVAC systems and everything in between, the companies can help. For example, Knauf Group’s dedicated laboratory in Germany has been offering customised acoustic solutions since the 1970s and has achieved remarkable results such as creating cinema partitions that can cut sound by 83 dB (the sound of a pneumatic drill measure 100 dB at 10 metres).

The companies have worked on several unique cinema projects recently. The newly opened Pathé cinema in the historic Dutch city of Maastricht, for example, features two side-by-side underground theatres in acoustically challenging sunken steel and concrete chambers.


Good acoustics are good for business

Knauf Insulation provided 40,000 m2 of Acoustifit and Naturoll solutions for these unique spaces with 300 mm Acoustifit installed in the floating ceilings of the cinema rooms and two layers of 60 mm Acoustifit in the theatres’ steel hulls to achieve a sound insulation of 63 dB. The same system was also applied to partition walls between the foyer, external rooms and the Dolby sound room.

Meanwhile, in the new Kinepolis cinema in the heart of Haarlem in the Netherlands, Acoustifit was used extensively in the complex’s six theatres to ensure the perfect sound experience for the 934-seat maximum capacity.

Kinepolis Movie Theater Acoustic Insulation Haarlem Netherland

“Good cinema acoustics are important to everyone,” says Maro. “If cinemas deliver a great experience where customers feel genuinely engaged with their movie experience they will come back and that is good for business and good for everyone.”


• Knauf Insulation has sound solutions to improve acoustic performance in every type of cinema and all the expertise you need to make an informed choice.

Our DRS Sound Supreme Board has been specially developed for the insulation core of wooden doors and is popular with entertainment companies as well as acoustically demanding hotels.

Our Rock Mineral Wool is often used as the core of sandwich panels in partition walls and roof elements due to its excellent sound insulation properties.

Our Glass Mineral Wool is lightweight, easily installed and provides outstanding thermal insulation as well as exceptional acoustic performance.

Our Heraklith Wood Wool sound insulation is attractive, easy to install and made from sustainable natural materials. For cinemas that require black panels to avoid unwanted reflections, Heraklith offers the ideal colour customisable solution.

Our SUPAFIL Blowing Wool is ideal for new buildings, renovation and for prefabricated buildings with a range of applications for cavity walls.

Acoustic Brochure Cover

Acoustic Excellence Creates Better Buildings

Our acoustic brochure showcases the various solutions Knauf Insulation offers to reduce day-to-day noise pollution.